Regional Green Dialogs

English

In terms of having water resources, Afghanistan has a considerable advantage in comparison to its neighbors. However, war and other various factors have limited the country’s ability to make use of these resources. Water infrastructure—including dams, water storage tanks, irrigation and water supply networks, hydrometric stations and metrology systems, and sewage and sanitation systems—is limited and inefficient.

In recent years, the role and position of civil society organizations in dealing with local and regional crises are seen considering a new approach that requires finding common grounds, exchange of ideas and cooperation among civil society organizations functional in that specific region. Afghanistan and Pakistan have had complex and at times fragile political and security relations and in the meanwhile the two countries are tied in an unavoidable and undeniable trade and economic interdependency.

Attempting to look beyond established parameters of perception about the other in neighborly relations, we are calling for abstracts for a research on the identification of the conflict of interests between relevant stakeholders in Afghanistan and Pakistan. What are the enhancing, what are the mitigating factors and who are the important actors, when it comes to the prevailing mistrust regarding trans-boundary waters and energy projects between the two countries? Deadline 17th July 2016.

Within the framework of the project “Regional Civil Society Engagement in Green Dialogs. Promoting Peace and Stability through Equitable Resource Management”, the offices of Heinrich Böll Stiftung in Pakistan and Afghanistan successfully conducted a Vision Workshop for a seed group of the Regional Green Dialogs Network. The workshop aimed at increasing mutual understanding and developing a joint vision and a plan for future action. Intellectuals, experts and activits from both countries (Pakistan and Afghanistan) participated in the event and reflected on how to promote peace and stability in the region through equitable natural resource management, especially looking into water and energy.

Since its formation in 2014 the National Unity Government of Afghanistan has in different occasions, expressed its commitment to share the benefits of Afghanistan’s geographic centrality through regional cooperation - particularly economic integration - with its neighbors and countries beyond the immediate neighborhood.

The relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan remains fragile. Our project “Regional Civil Society Engagement in Green Dialogs” seeks to shift the discussion from its primer focus on security aspects towards shared interests by managing natural resources equitably. The cooperation between hbs offices in Afghanistan and Pakistan engages civil society actors from both countries in dialogs on regional cooperation.

Water quantity and quality are deteriorating and the struggle among all common water users is likely to intensify. This may become even more visible in river basins that cross political boundaries of different countries. History reveals that in many situations, this mutual need may bring strategic cooperation rather than open conflict, and lead to peaceful solutions to water disputes. Over the last 67 years, we have witnessed only 37 severe water disputes globally, in comparison to 295 water cooperation treaties (UN Water 2008: 3).

This paper highlights that with rising population, natural resources endowed on human kind are degrading and depreciating and would soon become extinct or unusable if not sustainably utilised. Impact of climate change serves as a catalyst to further amplify the process of ecological deterioration with anthropogenic activities.